Jesus was just a good teacher - all that God stuff was added later. Pure myth, right?
Many people like Jesus's teachings. Love and kindness are good ... we should care for the sick and the poor ... racism and sexism are bad ... family is important ... etc. But they won't go so far as to say he was God! That's too “extreme”. They will even say Jesus never claimed to be God.
"He was just a good teacher, he never claimed to be God, that just got added by his followers … these myths get attached to lots of historical figures."
If you tell your friends that Jesus was God, they will think you're a fanatic. How can you show them?
There's a fashion now to denigrate things without bothering to look at the evidence. Most Americans are anti-Islam ... but they've never read any of the Koran! Your friends have heard odd Bible readings, but they've never read it, and don't want to! So it's hard to show them evidence - "Oh, I'm not interested in ancient documents".
But the Bible is where the historical records are.
Maybe you can start by pointing out that Jesus and his disciples got all the attention by doing miracles! Jesus went round doing healing miracles and the people were amazed. ("..."). People flocked after Jesus - to see more miracles.
Even when he hid in a remote place the crowds walked miles to find him, several thousand of them! Most of these weren't sick people wanting healing - they were sight-seers eager to see more mind-blowing miracles. So how could Jesus be just a good teacher? Teachers don't work miracles.
"Ah well, that's faith healing, that does happen sometimes", people say. Does it really? Did you yourself ever see a healing miracle? No. The people around Jesus hadn't, either. "His ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke clearly ... They were ASTOUNDED BEYOND MEASURE, saying 'He [Jesus] has done everything well; he even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!".
Only God can work miracles. ("Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"). Everyone knew that. In fact it almost got the apostles Peter and John executed. They healed an old crippled man in public "in Jesus's name" - in other words, they called upon God by calling on Jesus. It was illegal to call anyone God (same as in countries like Nepal today). They got arrested for this crime, jailed, and tried by the very same judges who had crucified Jesus weeks ago, on the same charge! (Acts ch.4) They were "blaspheming" - saying Jesus was God. If the disciples 'made it all up', they did it less than a month after He died!
Jesus himself got arrested, convicted of blasphemy, and executed precisely because he WAS saying he was God. He said it so clearly that the chief judge got infuriated at the trial, tore his own clothes in rage, and said "We don't need to hear any more evidence!"
If your friends have read the Bible, they may object "Well, no. Jesus only talked about the 'Son of Man'. Who knows what that means?" OK, fair question. Why did he do that, and what did it mean?
Jesus knew the law well. He knew he would be executed if he claimed to be God. So for a long time he called himself THE MAN ('Son of Man' means this in Hebrew) as a code name, so that the temple police couldn't arrest him. For example, he asked the disciples "Who do men say that THE MAN is?" ... and then "But who do you say that I am?" (clearly he was asking them about himself - he is 'THE MAN'). ... And then he congratulates Peter for his answer "You are the son of the living God". And then he says "THE MAN will come with his angels to judge everyone" (at the end of the world).
He's not just claiming to be a good teacher, is he? It was in Jesus, not the disciples, who "made up the God stuff".
AND, there's one more piece of evidence that's MUCH bigger - hugely, life-changingly bigger.
What was it that, within 8 weeks, changed a tiny band of 11 disappointed, bereaved disciples into thousands of devoted Christians willing to brave the temple police? It was the good news - "He lives!" Weeks after Jesus's death Peter stands up IN PUBLIC and says "This man, who you crucified and killed, God has raised up to life ... This Jesus God has raised up, and all of us are witnesses". Hearing this, three thousand people became Christians that day! ... presumably because he really did rise from the dead. After all, they were right there - if it was just a rumour, would they have believed Peter? Would you?
More than "just a good teacher", eh?
And at Peter and John's trial a week or so later, Peter tells the judges the same thing. Right there in Jerusalem, within a month, the judges can't find any way to deny that Jesus rose from the dead. And the crowd outside the court is so excited by the this news (and the miraculous healing) that the judges don't dare to convict and order another execution.
It's true that there have been famous teachers in the past (Moses, Confucius, Buddha, Lao-Tse, Mohamed ...). But none of them have claimed to be God. None have risen from the dead. And NONE of their followers have claimed they were God! So much for this "common myth".
So no, Jesus was not just a man. And He DID claim to be God, repeatedly ... until they killed Him for saying it.
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